School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic A. Individuals and Societies Change Over Time

Indicator 1. Analyze the chronology and significance of key historical events leading to early settlement in Maryland

Objective b. Compare the development of places and regions, such as St. Mary's City, Western Maryland, Kent Island, and Annapolis


Life in the Maryland colony was different depending on where one lived. Geography played a large role in shaping life. In Southern Maryland, settled first, abundant navigable rivers and good soil led to the dominance of tobacco agriculture, which created a society in which the population was dispersed over wide areas with little sense of community. The lower Eastern Shore, also settled early, resembled Southern Maryland in its population density and agriculture. Steadily, colonists moved north and west in search of unsettled land, and by the mid 1700s, central and western Maryland were growing rapidly. Because the soil and geography were less-suited to tobacco growing in these regions (and because the tobacco market had become quite volatile), farmers made wheat the staple crop. In the absence of navigable rivers, a network of roads was necessary to get the wheat to mills. Towns developed quickly to provide farmers with necessary goods and services. Founded as a tobacco port in 1729, Baltimore gradually grew into the state's major center for processing and shipping wheat and came to dominate Maryland economically, socially, politically, and culturally by the early nineteenth century.

St. Mary's City in Southern Maryland was the first area of the colony to be settled and was the colony's first capital. The colonists who sailed aboard the Ark and the Dove established the town in 1634 on land inhabited by the Yaocomico Indians. In exchange for some cloth and tools, the Yaocomicos agreed to allow the colonists to live in half of their village for the first year and to turn over the village completely the following year. In addition, they provided the colonists with food, showed them how to plant corn, beans and squash, and taught them other skills necessary in the New World. Life in St. Mary's City was quite crude and was largely a struggle for survival, even for the wealthy. Homes had only one room and a dirt floor, and colonists farmed plots of land just outside the town. At first, the settlers focused on growing food crops, but soon they turned to growing tobacco for sale in England. The focus on tobacco agriculture meant that St. Mary's City never grew into a major town. Because tobacco was best transported by water rather than over land and because growing tobacco required huge tracts of land, settlement spread out along the area's waterways rather than concentrating in any town.

Annapolis replaced St. Mary's City as the colony's capital in 1694 in response to the increasing settlement of central Maryland and the transformation of the colony into a Protestant royal colony. Annapolis grew into a major town by the 1750s as a result of the business of governing. Businesses sprang up to serve not only the needs of government but also the needs of the government officials, lawyers, and merchants who lived in Annapolis and the wealthy people who came to Annapolis for legislative sessions. Craftsmen such as silversmiths, cabinetmakers, and hatters prospered, and the gentry built impressive homes. Annapolis was the social, political, and cultural center of the colony until the rise of Baltimore after the American Revolution.

Western Maryland developed after the coastal regions. Land there was not suitable for growing tobacco, and there were fewer rivers for water transportation. But the fertile hills and valleys of the region were perfect for growing wheat, which became a major Maryland crop. Many Western Maryland settlers were Germans and Scotch-Irish who came from Pennsylvania, which helped shape the region's culture. To process the wheat into flour, many mills and other businesses associated with preparing the wheat sprang up, and towns like Frederick and Hagerstown were established. Road construction was necessary to transport the wheat in the absence of rivers. As a result, colonial western Maryland was characterized by a much stronger sense of community than southern Maryland.

Kent Island was actually settled prior to the arrival of the Ark and the Dove. In 1631, a Virginian named William Claiborne established a trading post on the island, which grew to about 100 inhabitants. Because the Maryland Charter granted Lord Baltimore only land not yet "cultivated," Claiborne claimed that Kent Island did not fall under Lord Baltimore's authority. Claiborne and the Kent Island residents continued to rebel against Lord Baltimore for many years.

Resources for Objective 5.A.1.b: